Now Sowing: Kale/Collards (mid-August)

Image of Kale Lacinato
Image courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Common Name: Kale & Collards (Brassica oleracea)

Find seeds in the catalog

Seed Saving Level: Advanced; may cross with other B. Oleracea members, including cabbage, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. Produces seeds during its second growing season.

Planting: Kale and collards are hardy insect-pollinated biennials that can withstand freezing temps. They also resist heat, though collards are a  better choice for hot weather. Kale can fade in the summer sun. Plants flower prolifically and attract bees. Stalks can be up to 5 ft high. For fall harvest, sow seeds directly in mid August, ¼ to ½ inch deep. Plants like full sun, although light shade can help them tolerate hot weather. Kale and collard seeds take 1-2 weeks to germinate. Medium water, heavy feeder. As the planting fills in, it is gradually harvest thinned, first to 6", then to 12," and then (if the plants get big enough) to a final spacing of 15 to 18".

Harvesting: Cut small, young leaves for fresh salads. Larger leaves can be harvested for braising and stir-fry -- cut the outer leaves first.

Seed Saving: Seeds are produced during the 2nd season. When fully developed, the pods will dry, and plants will die back. Remove the stalks when most pods have ripened and dried ~ before they begin to shatter, but not when they are still green. Cut stalks, gather, and allow pods to dry completely in a paper bag for a few weeks. When dry, shake the pods and the seeds will fall into the bag. The seeds can then be poured into a smaller container. Light shaking will bring debris to the top of the seeds where it can be hand-picked or winnowed. Use a screen to help with cleaning.

Sources: Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (2002) by Suzanne Asworth

Recipe: Lemony Wild Rice with Greens, Pine Nuts, & Raisins

4 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup wild rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
10-12 ounces collard greens or kale (any variety), stemmed and sliced into narrow ribbons
2 organic lemons, zested and juiced
1 good pinch dried hot red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
¼ cup raisins, or more, to taste

In a large saucepan or small soup pot, bring the broth or water to a boil. Add the wild rice. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pot on the burner for another half hour or so, until all the liquid is absorbed.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring until the onion softens. Add the greens, and stir to quickly coat them with the oil, then add ¼ cup water. Continue cooking until the greens are just wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cooked rice and stir mixture gently to combine. Add the grated zest from both lemons; squeeze in the lemon juice; and season the mixture with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with pine nuts and raisins just before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Wild About Greens: 125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy, and other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves (2012) by Nava Atlas